Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Trews @ The Roxy -- 04/26/11

I have seen The Trews over a half dozen times now, and whether acoustic or electric, they're always been in good sized venues. Which is great, but when one of my favourite live bands announced a string of fan-only dates in smaller venues, I knew I had to go.

Before the show, though, a brief tangent. I know I am in the minority being Vancouveronian who couldn't care less about the Canucks in the playoffs, but I was still a little dismayed when I found out that The Roxy would be playing game seven while The Trews were playing. I went to see a rock show, not a hockey game. It wasn't as distracting as it could have been -- I am guessing the fact that since it was a private show for dedicated fans helped a lot -- but it was still a little annoying. The band, however, were really great sports about it; they definitely knew their audience and were thinking of their fans... and even had a little fun with it. Colin mentioned it a couple times, joking "don't fuck it up!", improvising some lyrics about the game, and even pausing for the penalty shot... while they played their rendition of the Hockey Night in Canada theme.

As for the real show, The Trews were definitely on top of their game. From the insanely high energy of songs like the [appropriate] hockey anthem "Not Ready To Go" to the more mellow songs like "Dreaming Man", they proved why they are one of Canada's best live bands.
The set was heavy on the new album, obviously, including my two favourites from it, "One by One" and "I'll Find Someone Who Will", which were slotted with a couple of my old favourites, "Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me" and "Can't Stop Laughing".
And despite the game, The Trews had the crowd wrapped around their finger, with everyone singing along to the aforementioned "Not Ready To Go" and "Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me".

Another interesting thing about seeing the band live is the covers they always slip in. During "So She's Leaving" there was a little Rolling Stones, and "Tired of Waiting" had a bit of Buffalo Springfield. The song also had some fantastic guitar work from John-Angus, who is just a phenomenal guitar player. My face melted on several occasions thanks to him.
They ended their set after over an hour with "Hold Me In Your Arms" before coming out (just after the Canucks won) for a one song encore, somehow managing to top the energy of their entire set with "Burning Wheels"

The World I Know, People Of The Deer, Not Ready to Go, So She's Leaving (w/ She's So Cold - Rolling Stones), Paranoid Freak, Stay With Me, Hope & Ruin, Misery Loves Company, Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me, One By One, Can't Stop Laughing, I'll Find Someone Who Will, Dreaming Man, Tired of Waiting (For What It's Worth - Buffalo Springfield), Hold Me In Your Arms.
[encore] Burning Wheels.

Friday, April 22, 2011

songs of the indeterminate time period.

I have spontaneously decided I am going to post more previews of things I am digging. We'll see it I stick with it, or if the next one comes in another nine months. So here is the... let's call it "long awaited"... next instalment of my songs of the week month "whenever I feel like it" segment

Going to be honest, I hadn't heard much of Sidney York before I stumbled upon "Dick & Jane". The song is insanely catchy -- I bet you'll find yourself whistling along at random points during your day -- and the video, which features cameos by members of Beekeeper and Mother Mother, is really cool and fun (and unless I'm mistaken, all done in one take!). It's off her [awesomely titled] album Apocalyptic Radio Cynic which is due out May 24th.

The first time I saw 41st & Home, I admit, my reaction was a little... "meh". But in the year since then, I've seen them more and more, and they have definitely grown as a band in that time -- I can only assume their inclusion in the Peak Performance Project helped.
Just today they released a video done by the fine folks at Amazing Factory of a new song "Gorbachev" from their upcoming, untitled, un-release-dated EP, which I am definitely looking forward to.

One of my favourite albums of 2009 was from The Ghost Is Dancing, a band and album that I thought was criminally under-looked. Well, they ceased to be, and Jim DeLuca -- one of the singer/songwriters -- has formed The Natural Shocks. The first single off their upcoming album Complete With Comfortable Lighting (available June 9th) is "Heavier Than Heavy", and it is an infectious power-pop song that will be stuck in your head for days.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

3 Minute Revelations: Cardiography by David Vertesi

Combining my joy of production with my false sense of smug superiority in telling you what you should like* -- and since I've clearly failed at keeping up at full album write ups (the last one being over six months ago... yipes) -- here is another instalment of 3 Minute Revelations**

This will probably be my last 2010 album before I start in on this year, and it's another of my favourite albums of last year. Which shouldn't surprise any of the regular readers (all seventeen of you).

Here is the Cardiography by David Vertesi


*please note blatant sarcasm.
** subtitle: Kirk Takes Three Minutes of Your Life and Awesomes It Up.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

3 Minute Revelations: 100 Blows by Henry & The Nightcrawlers

Combining my joy of production with my false sense of smug superiority in telling you what you should like* -- and since I've clearly failed at keeping up at full album write ups (the last one being over six months ago... yipes) -- here is another instalment of 3 Minute Revelations** (which will hopefully come at a better rate than one every two and a half weeks.)

Before I get into 2011, there were a few albums last year that I didn't get a chance to write about, and while I won't do them all, I'll catch up on a couple of my favourites of 2010 before moving on. I don't think any regular readers will be surprised when I say Henry & The Nightcrawlers is one of those favourites.

Here is the 100 Blows by Henry & The Nightcrawlers 


*please note blatant sarcasm.
** subtitle: Kirk Takes Three Minutes of Your Life and Awesomes It Up.

Friday, April 15, 2011

top 26 songs of the first 20 weeks of 2011

I don't normally like doing the whole list-making thing -- I don't even think I did one for best songs/albums of last year -- but procrastination breeds, uh... random lists... and I had seen a couple lists and discussions lately that got me thinking. So here is it.
Not surprisingly, it's pretty local and/or Canadian-centric... but to be honest, nothing much international has caught my attention so far this year. A few things just came out, and I have my eye on a few more, but this is what I've got so far.
And why 26 you ask? I counter that question with another question: why 25?

Apocalypse Pop Song by Memphis
Exactly what the title implies, a near-perfect pop song with Torquil's usual brand of excellent lyrics. (and optimism.)
Blood by The Dears
From the first time I heard this, I loved it. And every subsequent time, I loved it more. Definitely one of my top-favourites of the year thus far.
Bystander by Jets Overhead
A couple years ago, JO did an acoustic show here. They played this. I loved it but could never find it. And then the EP came out and I was happy.
Growing Old in the City by The Liptonians
Great all around album, but this vaguely sinister, horn-and-accordion-fueled chant is such a fun song.
Happy New Year by We Are The City
So hard to pick just one off this EP. Can I put them all?
I'd Never Climbed A Mountain by Portage & Main
I loves me a song with a good build up, and this has that in spades.
Mischievous Moon by Jill Barber
Adore the strings. This song (and whole album) makes me want to be drinking fine whiskey in a dimly lit room, while about to start of a wild romance. 
No Future Shock by TV on the Radio
Exactly the kind of awesomeness you would expect from TVOTR.
One By One by The Trews
Another song I immediately loved. A bit softer than usual from The Trews, but amazing harmonies.
Ride This Out by Imaginary Cities
What was that about songs with a good build up? Another perfect example, from another album packed with excellent songs.
Stagger by Jess Hill
Recorded live off the floor, yet another good build, a stellar voice and damn catchy. Were I ranking these, it would be near the top.
Suicide Demo for Kara Walker by Destroyer
Would put Bay of Pigs had it not been on the EP last year, but this one is just so hauntingly beautiful.
Problems by Mother Mother
If you hate The Stand's quirkiness... you'll probably hate this too. But it's such a fun song.
This Is Why We Fight by The Decemberists
Another top-favourite I was immediately taken by. If I am ever in a battle of epic proportions, I want this to be my song. It would be playing while I charge through a field, sword in hand, towards my foes.
Tiny Valentine by Peter Elkas 
The hooks... the hooks! I dare you to not get this stuck in your head after hearing it.
When I Get Grown by Treelines
I don't think I expected anything this... well, beautiful and heartbreaking from Treelines. But there it is.
Yer Fall by Hey Rosetta!
Another tough-to-choose-from-a-great-album, but you know when there is one single, small moment in a song that most people will miss, but makes you love the song? This has one of those for me.
Zombie Delight by Buck 65
It's Buck. With a song about zombies. How can you not love it? (Also, the video is pretty sweet)

(the following are pre-album songs, and there is a chance I'll like another song better when it comes out)
Circuital by My Morning Jacket
It feels like it's been way too long since new MMJ, and this has me so excited for the eponymous album.
Empire by Rococode
First time I saw them I had this stuck in my head for days. Same as every other time after that. Glad it's finally out, but still very much looking forward to the full album.
I Feel You by Sam Roberts Band
The song seems like it is simultaneously exactly what you'd expect, and creeping into interesting new directions. Hopefully the rest of the album is like that (my favourite Sam Roberts song sounds nothing like the rest)
In A Place of Lesser Men by Matthew Good
I would be the first to admit I'm a Matt Good fanboy, but I really liked the single. Something about a song that combined flute, lap steel, piano and guitar... and pulls it off.
Shut Up & Kiss Me by Wide Mouth Mason
Been waiting forever for new WMM, and it did not disappoint. Especially with Gordie Johnson now the full time bass player.
The Prime Minister's Daughter by Library Voices
"Pop as Fuck!" indeed, Library Voices. A catchier song will be hard to find.
Trembling Hands by Explosions In The Sky
There needs to be a new word for "epic" to describe EITS. What "epic" is to normal music, they are to "epic".

(the following are not yet released in any format, and I have only seen live and/or because I'm special)
No Game by Redbird
This song does not even appear anywhere on the interwebs, apparently. I have heard it live with a full band and acoustic, and both -- which are pretty different -- are quite awesome, and features one of my favourite lyrics of the year thus far.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beekeeper w/ Sandman Viper Command and 41st & Home @ Railway -- 04/10/11

Seems like it's been a busy few days for shows. After a taping for k-os and Hannah Georgas on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight at the CBC, it was over to the Railway Club.

41st and Home started off the night, somehow cramming five members and gear onto the Railway Club's small stage. Their set consisted of mostly new songs -- I would assume from the EP they just finished recording -- which sounded pretty good. They had the same chamber-pop-ish feel as you would expect from the band, but definitely also shows how much they've expanded that sound in the last year. Among the new ones there were a few older; "Sleeper" had part of the crowd singing along, and "Eva", a perfect song to end the set; even though it seemed Thom's guitar was a bit too low during the song.
There was also a nice moment during the set where Thom needed to tune, so instead of standing there in awkward silence, Patrick played some smooth jazz on the keyboard. It was a neat way to break that potentially momentum killing pause.

Next up was the awesomely named Sandman Viper Command. They had an odd stage setup as two of them were on stage, and two of them on the floor right in front. The band a bit more of a straightforward rock sound to them, which they pulled off quite well, and well as a good stage presence, and some funny banter/chatter. But while there was nothing bad about them, there wasn't really anything all that great either. They played a Perfectly Acceptable Set, but nothing that made me need to run out and listen to more.

And wrapping up the night was Beekeeper. They won me over from the start, with a swarm of puns before launching into an incredibly energetic set, sharing the same layout, with bass and violin on the floor, but the other two on stage. Musically they were good, with some catchy pop-rock songs that were a little all over the place, at times. But what elevated the set was the energy, and especially the charisma from the band. Lead singer/guitarist Devon Lougheed had a great presence, and sense of humour, joking and telling stories between songs. And to say nothing of drummer Luke Cyca and his inexplicable puffy shirt (didn't realise he made a deal with a low talker, perhaps?). The set of fun songs included "Sudden Cuckoo", which has been getting some air on CBCR3, one that was introduced as a 40 second song (and ended up being just that) as well as some new stuff, teasing a split 7" with Sandman Viper Command later this year. As they brought the set to an end, they brought up everyone from the dance floor onto the stage to finish off with a stage full of fans.

A pretty fun show, in all, and a good way to spend a Sunday night.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Liptonians w/ Rococode and Jean-Paul De Roover @ Joe's Apartment -- 04/08/11

After hearing phenomenal things about The Liptonians live show, and with the album growing on me the more I listen to it, I was ridiculously excited to see them for the first time last night. Especially with Rococode opening. And I'll get to that in a moment, but first, a bit of a rant...
This was the second time I have seen a show at Joe's Apartment, and I'm starting to form an opinion on the place. The sound is decent enough, but what really bugged me was the TVs. It was cool before the bands were playing, when Indiana Jones was on, but then they didn't turn the movie/screens off when the music starts. And then when they switch to dumb comedies after Indy? It's hard to keep focused on the bands when there is slapstick comedy and nudity and Borat happening on screens right next to the stage, right next to performers heads sometimes. It actually seems a little disrespectful to the bands.
But I digress, on to said bands.

Starting off the night was Jean-Paul De Roover. He took the stage alone but was soon joined by himself, with liberal use of looping. At first I thought it would get a bit much, but used more than just the guitar, adding elements like synth and even some vocal work as well. It's always cool to see people looping that masterful, so it was a fun set to watch, and his songs were pretty catchy. While I wasn't necessarily blown away, I wouldn't mind seeing him again next time he's through town.

Next up was Rococode, and I was a little surprised to see the full band, as I was under the impression it was an acoustic set (see above poster). But I was in no way disappointed; I've seen them a few times in the last few months, and am continually impressed. There was a bit more banter and chatting in between songs than previous sets, but they were still content to let most of their songs do the talking, including the incredibly infectious "Empire" -- which always gets stuck in my head -- the haunting "Dreams" and the first single from the upcoming album, "Weapon", which is already getting some radio play. They brought the set to an end with a song I didn't catch the name up, but came to a bombastic finish, for a great ending to the set. I am definitely looking forward to the new album with each time I see them live.

And finally, it was time for The Liptonians. The first thing I noticed was no actual horn section, but they had it covered with canned horns. The second thing was all the hype about them being a fantastic live band was completely true. They played a sort of condensed version of their album, started off with their lead single "You Know I Did" before going into two of my other favourite songs on the album, one being the raucous "Growing Old In The City", a fantastic song live, which included a garbage can lid being played. The combination of the band's great chemistry, nailing the harmonies, and stage presence, getting the crowd to clap along for "Perfect Swimmers", helped them command the stage from beginning to end.
The set came to a close with the beautiful "Lesage" and the album closer, "Let's March back Into The Sea", as they played right up to the curfew with no encore.
Which leads me to my only complaint, other than the lack of live horns, which would be that the set was way too short! They only played for about half an hour before getting cut off by the curfew so the shiny shirts could take over the place. I can only hope that sooner rather than later (and at a better venue) they will march back into Vancouver.

You Know I Did, Hey! Hey! Help Is On The Way!, Growing Old In The City, The Privatest Parts, Perfect Swimmers, Lesage, March Back Into The Sea.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Rural Alberta Advantage w/ Hooded Fang @ Venue -- 04/07/11

I am going to admit right off the bat, while I liked both The Rural Alberta Advantage and Hooded Fang, I never really got too much into either band; listened to their respective albums a couple times, but that was about it. But when given the opportunity to check them out, I thought sure, why not, it'll be at least a decent show, right? Boy, was that an understatement.

The six members of Hooded Fang hit the stage around 9:30 and launched right into their insanely catchy and infectious selection of pop songs. They played a pretty decent set length of new and old, and even brand new, teasing a new album out in the summer. Each member of the band was brimming with energy and enthusiasm -- especially lead singer/guitarist Daniel Lee, but especially the other lead singer -- who also switched off between guitar, glockenspiel and even an accordion -- Lorna Wright. I don't think there was a single moment where she was standing still. It was an incredibly fun set, though I was a little disappointed they didn't play "Straight Up The Dial".

After that, I wasn't sure if the The Rural Alberta Advantage would be able to top them, but it was a night of shattered expectations after all. Even though they were a trio, they had about twice as many instruments on stage; and it wasn't just the multi-instrumentalism that was impressive, but the simultaneous-instrumentalism. Nils Edenloff was switching between guitar and keys for at least one song, but Amy Cole was, at one point, playing three instruments at the same time. A korg with one hand, a floor tom with the other, and a moog with her feet. Count the tambourine that was on top of the tom, and that brings it up to four. And let's not forget drummer Paul Banwatt, who was pretty damn impressive on the skins. 
The band was incredibly dynamic with a fantastic stage presence, the set seemed to have more energy than their albums and the sold out crowd absolutely into it, with lots of clapping and singing along. Among their own songs, part way through the set they broke out a cover song, with Nils alone doing a really mellow and folksy cover of... Eye of the Tiger, which turned out to be a really cool interpretation of it.
They ended the set with the new single, "Stamp", but came back out for a few song encore that came to a close with "The Dethbridge in Lethbridge"... or so we thought. As they ended the song, they all left stage -- guitar, tambourine and floor tom in hand -- wandering through the crowd and to the back of the room. They thanked everyone for coming and being great, and asked for quiet as they played one last song, completely unamplified in the middle of the room, standing above the crowd. A crowd that, shockingly enough, actually managed to stay almost completely silent for the song! As Nils belted out "Good Night", everyone started snapping along, creating a pretty amazing experience, and an incredible way to end the show.

Needless to say, both bands turned me from a casual fan to one that will definitely be back next time they come through town.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

West Coast Pop! w/ We Are The City, Aidan Knight & Analog Bell Service @ Red Room -- 03/03/11

With no offence meant to all other artists in the West Coast Pop series, this was the show I was most looking forward to. I hadn't seen either Aidan Knight or We Are The City play live in too long, and add Analog Bell Service to the bill? Forget about it. There was no contest.

Three vested gentlemen hit the stage as Analog Bell Service kicked off the night. Early on they mentioning it was their last show as the band, but hinted that they would be evolving into something more, by playing some new songs for a different project. It was as set full of fun and energy, with all three members having great chemistry -- especially the joking/banter between Colin Cowan & Chris Kelly. Among the set was their usual cool, and kind of dark, cover of "Sunglasses At Night" and "I Guess", which they ended with, and somehow managed to top the energy of the rest of their set. I'm definitely sad that it was their last show, but I glad to have seen it, and I am intrigued to find out what comes next.

Next up was Aidan Knight and his Friendly Friends. He played a good mix of songs from Versicolour and newer, starting off with, "Friendly Fires" with the rest of the band kicking in as it built up. He mentioned a few times, when chatting between songs with his charmingly-awkward banter, that he was happy to be there, playing with We Are The City and for everyone, and his enthusiasm shone through into his performance.
After another pair of new songs, the hauntingly beautiful "Margaret Downe" and another one which I didn't get the name of -- and so playing 'guess a new songs name', I dub it "Jean-Baptiste" -- he ended the set with the usual pairing of "Knitting Something Nice" and "Jasper". The former building to an intense ending and the latter is still incredibly fun to sing along to. And just about everyone else in the sold out Red Room seemed to think so, as well.
There was a bit of a technical issue, though, as I could hear a faint buzz throughout the set. It was not, however, terribly distracting and mostly just noticeable when Aidan was talking, or especially quiet parts. And it did not stop it from being the best show I've seen Aidan play yet.

Friendly Fires, Land's End, Altar Boys, North South East West, Margaret Downe, Jean Baptiste[?], Knitting Something Nice, Jasper.

And finally, it was time for We Are The City. It had been a while since I saw them live, back in October (which is weird, since I had seen them ten times in the ten months prior), so I was not only anxious to see them, but interested in seeing the new guitarist, Blake Enemark, for the first time. They hit the stage with the first two tracks off the new EP, High School, amping up the energy right off the bat.
Not that I was unsure, but any doubt I had about Blake were erased, especially after "Time Wasted", and both Cayne and Andy were as passionate as ever -- I always think Andy is going to tear right through the drums with the amount of intensity he puts into playing.
Half way through the set, there was an incredible moment where Cayne, after a little work and pleading, silenced nearly the whole song out room to play the beautiful "Angel In White". He didn't quite achieve perfect silence, but it was an impressive feat nonetheless. That was followed by "Dark/Warm Air" which is the bands first song to have Andy on vocals, and they "ended" with a crowd favourite, "Astronomers". But after some heavy encore chants they came back out for one more -- the only other song they knew with Blake -- "1987", which had Cayne on guitar.
Like Aidan, they too were visibly excited to be playing to a sold out crowd. There was one moment during "Beasts" where everyone was clapping and singing along, and when the crowd got louder than Cayne, there was a giant grin, a look of indescribable joy on his face. It was more than obvious that the three of them were more excited to be playing than the crowd was to be watching them.

And again, much like Aidan, it was probably the best show I have seen from the band. I first saw them a little over a year ago -- and have seen them many times since -- and it's been incredible to watch them progress as a band.

Get Happy, Happy New Year, There Are Very Tiny Beasts In The Ground, Time Wasted, That's It That's All, April, Angel In White, Dark/Warn Air, Astronomers.
[encore] 1987.